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Introduction and Editorial

Vol. 6 No. 1 (2021): Visual Spaces of Change: photographic documentation of environmental transformations

Photographic narratives of urban transformations




Time, space, scale and movement are essential aspects of visual data production. Significant changes in cities’ flows can transpire in just a few minutes, hours or days, span several years or even decades. A diachronic study of an urban environment could therefore concentrate on the repetitive patterns of many activities and phenomena that occur during a day or focus on transformations over much more extended periods of time. There are several photographic methods that specifically focus on documenting this specific change — it is the case of “interval photography”, “time-lapse photography” and other forms of “repeat photography”.1 All these, and others, explicitly aim at sequentially researching social change, and physical and cultural expressions as they develop, over time in a particular physical or cultural space.


  1. Jon Rieger, “Rephotography for Documenting Social Change”, in The Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods (2nd ed), eds.
  2. Luc Pauwels and Dawn Mannay (Beverly Hills, CA/London: Sage, 2020), 99-113.
  3. Luc Pauwels, “Conceptualizing the ‘visual essay’ as a way of generating and imparting sociological insight: Issues, formats and realizations”, Sociological Research Online, 17(1), 2012.
  4. Luc Pauwels, Reframing Visual Social Science: Towards a More Visual Sociology and Anthropology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  5. Roland Barthes, “Le message photographique”, In: Communications, 1, 1961